Making Eggs Benedict was one of my sure-fire Impress the Ladies™ moves. Having secured the necessary ingredients the day before, I’d get up early, set up a pot of simmering water, split muffins, make a hollandaise, and then wait for the object of my affection to arrive in the kitchen before transmuting base ingredients into the perfect breakfast. Word of this particular talent got around; I once had to prepare brunch for a party or twelve hung over post-wedding guests.
When my life became inextricably entwined with that of She Who Must Be Obeyed, I knew I’d have to step up my game. I wouldn’t just make Eggs Benedict, I’d serve it to her in bed on one of her weekend visits. Same ritual: get up early, start the water, etc., but this time I had a spectator. One of my housemates watched in rapt fascination as I assembled plates, asking “You’re doing all of this for a breakfast in bed? What’s wrong with a Pop Tart?” She was so impressed she even took a photo:
She Who has a copy of the photo, and every now and then she’d leave it out somewhere, a less-than subtle hint that she wanted the royal treatment. Unfortunately, I had grown bored with the dish, mostly due to dissatisfaction with the ingredients. Supermarket English muffins tasted terrible, but better quality muffins were much thicker and skewed the bread to egg ratio in the wrong direction. The real culprit, however, was the Canadian bacon – too-thin rounds that dried up the minute you dropped them in a pan to heat up.
When I saw simultaneous posts about the April Charcutepalooza April challenge and Michael Ruhlman’s Eggs Benedict from scratch challenge I jumped at the opportunity to make my own Canadian bacon. I broke down an entire pork loin into two four-pound chunks and three thick chops, trimming all of the fat from the future bacon but leaving it on the chops.
After a two-day brine, the meat hit the smoker, where it bathed in cherrywood smoke (I have an entire tree’s worth of cherry logs) for about four hours, until the internal temperature reached 150°F.
I let the finished product cool down before wrapping and refrigerating it.
Thursday night isn’t always pork chop night – we’re not the Simpsons – but the three pan-seared chops were dinner and a quality control test:
The day before Sunday’s brunch I made my own English muffins using the recipe Ruhlman provided. Having a large griddle and a set of muffin rings made the process idiot simple.
The next morning I began the familiar routine: simmer the water, make a hollandaise (the blender recipe from Ruhlman’s post), toast the muffins, cut thick slices and warm the bacon, and poach the eggs (using my Badass Perforated Spoon). The dish came together much more quickly than before, finished with a garnish of blood orange supremes.
Best Eggs Benedict ever. The muffins were crunchy and yeasty, the eggs were perfectly poached, the sauce was warm and buttery, but the bacon stole the show. It was moist and smoky – components that I had never experienced before in the dish but were so clearly necessary. My only quibble was with the consistency of the hollandaise, which was thinner than what I could whisk by hand.
I no longer have to impress the ladies, but I’ve re-acquired my Eggs Benedict mojo. I have muffins left over and a whole lot of canadian bacon – I think it’s time for a few “breakfast for dinner” nights.